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Inside View: Behind the Pillars – RESPECT

 

by: Dr. Ed Hastings

Respect (or reverence) is the best translation for the Italian word cortesia. This is the word St. Francis used for treating everything with deep care and concern because of their origination in the Creator. We chose respect because of its etymology. The word literally means “re” to go back and “specere” to look at. Putting the two together it means to look back or again at the worthiness and specialness of another part of creation. Frequently we miss their wonderfulness (full of wonder) the first time around.

The Respect pillar illustrates the connection between the notion of cortesia in the life of St. Francis and modern sports. St. Francis treated all things with great reverence. Whether it was the suffering leper or the angry wolf or the warring leader of Islam (Sultan Malek al-Kamil), St. Francis had a way of bringing creatures together, no matter how they seemed to be separated or divided or enemies.

On the Respect pillar we show several examples of great respect from the contemporary world of sports. These examples attempt to show powerful ways in which athletes demonstrate respect for their opponents. I will consider three examples we have depicted on the pillars. The first is the true story of the softball game in 2008 between Western Oregon University and Central Washington University. In a significant game several years ago, Sara Tucholsky of Western Oregon University, hit a homerun and while she was running around the bases, she thought she missed first base. She turned around to go back and touch the base and in doing so, tore her anterior cruciate ligament. She could not finish running around the bases (the player needs to be able to touch all the bases to qualify for a home run) and it seemed as if she would not be able to do it on her own. The rule is that her teammates could not assist her in doing so. So the opposing team’s first baseman and shortstop decided to carry her around to touch all the bases. In doing so, they helped the other team beat them. They had great respect for their opponents. The Central Washington University players cared more about the welfare of an individual than winning.

The second example illustrated on the pillars comes from the Army—Navy football game. Pictured on the Respect pillar is part of the ritual that occurs at the end of each Army-Navy football game: the teams stand behind one another while their opponent’s sing their alma mater. No matter who wins, the teams do the same thing. They are demonstrating the great respect and admiration they have for one another, even though they just were trying to beat the other and beat their brains out. This is a tremendous display of sportsmanship.

The third example of respect on the pillars is the healthy competition Larry Bird and Magic Johnson showed in their competition with one another. These two competed against one another most of their careers and strove hard against one another. They played in the national championship game against one another: Bird was from Indiana State and Johnson was from Michigan State. They then went on to compete against each other in the NBA: Bird played for the Celtics and Johnson played for the Lakers. They realized that in order for each to achieve great things, they needed an equally strong opponent. Our opponent can bring out the best in us and warrant great respect from us, if we know how to see properly.

Your 2012 Philadelphia Eagles….and Bruce Willis?

 

 

Ladies and gentlemen, your 2012 Philadelphia Eagles… and Bruce Willis in time!

By Miller Ree

“When a person dies he only appears to die. He is still very much alive in the past, so it is very silly for people to cry at his funeral. All moments, past, present, and future, always have existed, always will exist” – Kurt Vonnegut

Before I get to talk of fumbles and firings I would like to ruminate on a movie experience that will sober any diehard sports fan when just a little bit of critical thinking is applied. This past week I took a break from mid-term studying to watch an old favorite of mine: 1995’s Twelve Monkeys. Directed by Terry Gilliam, who is known for his skewed depiction of reality, this movie has Bruce Willis traveling back in time to set things right… before it was cool (see: Looper). Now, drop your copy of the Joust (just kidding), go home and watch this movie because it’s come to my attention that many of you probably haven’t seen it. 12 monkeys (shot mostly in Philly locations such as Wannamaker’s Department Store, Eastern State Penn ,and the old Met Theater on Broad just to name a few) has our hero traveling backwards in time to find the source of an airborne virus that has sent the people of his era into the underground. Not spoiling anything, our boy Bruce ends up in 1990 and is declared insane based on his ramblings of being from the future (also, time travel in this movie renders one a slobbering mess which doesn’t help the whole ”I’m not crazy!” argument) and is put into a mental institution. Here he meets a patient obsessed with anti-consumerism played by Brad Pitt who buys into his story about the disease that will end humanity. This interaction sets off an intricate series of events that leads to a moment where the future of humanity hangs in the balance. The whole point of the movie is for us to think about the folly of hindsight and to consider that some problems transcend time and reason.

Hindsight? Did someone say sports article concerning the Philadelphia Eagles? Well alright then, this shouldn’t be too hard considering the current state of the franchise. Andy Reid just fired Juan Castillo as the defensive coordinator. I briefly glossed over the puzzling decision to hire Castillo in the first place in my last article but I’ll rehash anyway. Until 2001, Juan Castillo was the Eagle’s offensive line coach and had been for the better part of a decade. He was renowned across the league as one of the brighter minds and motivators at his position. Then something strange happened: Sean “I-can’t-fill-these-giant–Jim-Johnson-shoes” McDermott was fired after a brief stint as the Defensive coordinator and after much speculation; Andy Reid made an unprecedented move and gave the gig to Castillo who hadn’t held a position on the defensive side of the ball since 1986 when he coached the linebackers for Kingsville High in Texas. So this was a puzzling decision at the time for fans and sports media alike and it garnered a lot of criticism.

Here, we get to the time travel dilemma. We as fans have a general cursory understanding of how things are done in professional football which allows us to make reasonable predictions when something happens. We then become Bruce Willis in the mental hospital. We all said that Juan Castillo was not qualified for the position he was being given with all the reason in the world, but were ignored because, well, who cares what we think? The important thing to remember is, we were right.

This is just one current example of unrewarded hindsight. Are we supposed to pat ourselves on the back for being correct while we watch our team perform in a mediocre fashion? My answer is: Sort-of. Philadelphia sports fans are some of the best educated on their own teams in the country. This is a gift and a curse seeing as how our sports knowledge coupled with a dollar bill will get us a burger at Wendy’s and nothing more (well, hopefully in my case a future job at the Inquirer). The gift is that well supported passion despite a trophy case devoid of championship trophies that makes us who we are. We are Vince Papale and we throw snowballs at Santa Clause. We boo first and ask questions later. Our passion and knowledge sets us apart and even if it may make us look like jerks to the rest. Philadelphia, despite its Latin root, is the city of Independence (if you argue brotherly love, hang out in the parking lot before a Cowboys game and get back to me). That contrarian mentality means that although we know we wield no executive power, our voices will be heard.

Bruce Willis was not trying to save the people of 1996 when he traveled back in time. He was trying to save the future. Eagles fans want nothing but to save the future. Andy Reid wants to save 2012. We can all see there’s something wrong here and the jig may be up. This may be the beginning of the end of the “Andy Reid Era” but who can predict the future? Ok, maybe Bruce Willis.

2012 Neumann Knights Fall Sports Roundup

by  Sean Kulesa

Fall sports at Neumann University kicked off early this month with Cross County, Men’s Golf, Soccer, Field Hockey, Women’s Tennis, and Women’s Volleyball. Each team is looking to be successful and aim for a CSAC championship with a bid to compete with colleges across the country in their respective NCAA tournaments.

Women’s Cross Country Last season: Women’s Cross Country College finished 4th in the CSAC Championship. Preseason Poll: 3rd place Upcoming races: Paul Short Invitational (Lehigh University) – 09/28/2012 – 10:00AM 5th Annual Jack Saint Clair Memorial Cross Country Race (Philadelphia, PA) – 10/06/2012 – 12:00PM Immaculata Invitational (Immaculata University) – 10/18/2012 – 4:00PM CSAC Championship Meet (La Plume, PA) – 10/27/2012 – TBA

Men’s Cross Country Last season: Men’s Cross Country finished 9th place in the CSAC Championship. Preseason Poll: 9th place Upcoming races: Paul Short Invitational (Lehigh University) – 09/28/2012 – 10:00AM 5th Annual Jack Saint Clair Memorial Cross Country Race (Philadelphia, PA) – 10/06/2012 – 1:00PM Immaculata Invitational (Immaculata University) – 10/18/2012 – 4:00PM CSAC Championship Meet (La Plume, PA) – 10/27/2012 – TBA

Men’s Golf Last season: Men’s Golf won their first CSAC Championship with the combined score of 649.  Men’s Golf competed in their first NCAA tournament but did not make the cut after day 2. Upcoming matches: Swarthmore College Fall Golf Tournament (Wilmington, Del. / Rock Manor G.C.) – 09/24/2012 – 1:00PM Philadelphia University Fall Golf Classic (Lafayette Hill, Pa. / ACE Club) – 10/09/2012 – 11:45AM Immaculata Fall Invitational (Exton, Pa. / Whitford C.C.) – 10/22/2012 – 12:30PM

Field Hockey Last season: Field Hockey finished with an overall record of 6-13 and lost in the CSAC Tournament Semifinals 3-2 to Cabrini College. Preseason Poll: 3rd Place Upcoming games: vs. Notre Dame of Maryland University – 09/29/2012 – 12:00PM @ Cabrini College – 10/02/2012 – 4:00PM @ Keystone College – 10/09/2012 – 4:00PM @ The College of New Jersey – 10/11/2012 – 7:30PM @ Moravian College – 10/13/2012 – 12:00PM vs. Immaculata University – 10/20/2012 – 11:00AM vs. Gwynedd-Mercy College – 10/23/2012 – 7:00PM vs. Rowan University – 10/25/2012 – 4:00PM vs. Albright College – 10/27/2012 – 11:00AM

Women’s Soccer Last season: Women’s soccer finished the season with an overall record of 12-7-1 and lost in the CSAC Championship to Cabrini College 1-0. Preseason Poll: 2nd Place Upcoming games: @ Cairn University – 09/25/2012 – 4:00PM @ Keystone College – 09/29/2012 – TBA vs. Cedar Crest College – 10/03/2012 – 7:00PM vs. McDaniel College – 10/06/2012 – 12:00PM vs. Cabrini College – 10/09/2012 – 6:00PM @ Baptist Bible College – 10/13/2012 – 1:00PM @ Rosemont College – 10/16/2012 – 4:00PM @ Marywood University – 10/20/2012 – 3:00PM vs. Notre Dame of Maryland University – 10/23/2012 – 4:00PM @ Immaculata University – 10/27/2012 – 1:00PM

Men’s Soccer Last season: Men’s soccer finished the regular season with an overall record of 14-5-1 and won the CSAC Championship over Marywood University 2-1. Men’s made it to the 3rd round of the NCAA Tournament by defeating Salisbury University, in the first round, and upsetting Messiah College, in the second round. Preseason Poll: 1st place Upcoming games: vs. Gwynedd-Mercy College – 09/26/2012 – 6:00PM vs. Centenary College – 09/29/2012 – 3:00PM @ Richard Stockton College – 10/01/2012 – 7:00PM @ Keystone College – 10/03/2012 – TBA vs. Cabrini College – 10/06/2012 – 3:00PM vs. Johns Hopkins College – 10/10/2012 – 7:00PM @ Cairn University – 10/13/2012 – 2:00PM @ Swarthmore College – 10/15/2012 – 5:00PM vs. Marywood University – 10/17/2012 – 4:00PM @ Immaculata University – 10/20/2012 – 1:00PM @ Baptist Bible College – 10/23/2012 – 3:30PM vs. Rosemont College – 10/27/2012 – 2:00PM

Women’s Tennis Last season: Women’s Tennis finished with a 6-7 record. Preseason Poll: 5th place Upcoming matches: @ Alvernia University – 09/26/2012 – 4:00PM vs. Eastern University – 09/27/2012 – 3:30PM Goucher College Tennis Invitational – 09/29/2012 – 9:00AM Goucher College Tennis Invitational – 09/30/2012 – 9:00AM vs. Penn State-Berks – 10/02/2012 – 4:00PM vs. Immaculata University – 10/05/2012 – 3:30PM @ Rosemont College – 10/06/2012 – 12:00PM vs. Keystone College – 10/12/2012 – 3:30PM @ Cairn University – 10/13/2012 – 12:00PM

Women’s Volleyball Last season: Women’s Volleyball finished with a 22-14 record and fell in the CSAC Championship game to Cabrini College.    Preseason Poll: 2nd place Upcoming matches: vs. Cedar Crest College – 09/25/2012 – 7:00PM vs. Cairn College – 09/29/2012 – 2:00PM vs. Frostburg State University – 09/29/2012 – 6:00PM @ Rosemont College – 10/03/2012 – 7:00PM @ Cabrini College – 10/09/2012 – 7:00PM vs. Immaculata University – 10/11/2012 – 7:00PM vs. Rowan University – 10/12/2012 – 7:00PM vs. Franklin & Marshall College – 10/13/2012 – 10:00AM vs. Ursinus College – 10/13/2012 – 2:00PM @ Notre Dame of Maryland University – 10/17/2012 – 7:00PM vs. Widener University (Chester, PA) – 10/20/2012 – 10:00AM vs. Penn State-Altoona (Chester, PA) – 10/20/2012 – 12:00PM @ Centenary College – 10/23/2012 – 7:00PM @ Keystone College – 10/25/2012 – 7:00PM vs. Gwynedd-Mercy College – 10/27/2012 – 1:00PM vs. Richard Stockton College (Galloway, NJ) – 10/28/2012 – 10:00AM vs. DeSales University (Galloway, NJ) – 10/28/2012 – 12:00PM

There’s a New Player In Town

by Katherine Moretti

Neumann University Men’s Soccer team welcomed a new member for the 2012 soccer season. Many people know him as the #4 guard on the Neumann University Men’s Basketball team, but now we know him as the #20 midfielder on the turf, Steve Warhola. Steve is from Langhorne, Pennsylvania and graduated from Neshaminy High School in 2010. Steve is in his junior year at Neumann University and is studying for his Secondary Education degree.

Steve has not played soccer since he was 7 years old, so I, as well as many others are probably curious as to why all of a sudden he decided to try out for a Division 3 college soccer team in his junior year.

“It all started out as a joke. “If my 5th year eligibility was granted to me, which it was, I was going to try out for the team.” Another influence was during the soccer intra-murals. “Team mates from the soccer team saw me play and suggested that I try out”, Steve commented on his sudden urge to try out for the team.

I am sure trying out in college for a sport you have not played since you were younger is nerve-racking. Wondering if you were going to make the team or get cut, like being a freshman all over, trying out for a team. I asked Steve how it felt when he found out that he made the team? “After pre-season, we all met individually with the coach. As the conversation between us was progressing and from what he was saying, I thought I didn’t make the team, but, he threw in a little curve ball there & congratulated me on making the NUMS.”

Steve played in his first game on the weekend of September 1, 2012 in Virginia. “I had so many emotions going through me. It was definitely nerve-racking playing my first time in a game, but it was also a fun and exciting experience.”

Steve believes the team has some kinks to work out, but will have a successful year if everyone works hard. My last question was if he thought the team could win another CSAC championship? He responded positively, “That’s in the future, we are focusing on the next game.” Steve Warhola ended by saying, “The soccer team has been very welcoming and helpful with me as I try to get better and accustomed to the sport.”

As of September 13, the NUMS has a record of 2-2, with one tied game. The Neumann University community would like to wish Steve as well as the rest of the men’s soccer team the best of luck on their season.

My 2013 Summer-Mass Wish List for the 76ers

First, I must make my few comments[i] on the NBA season that just passed. For most Sixer fans it was an overwhelming success. Finally, our squad of overpaid underachievers suddenly became the still overpaid adequate achievers! (woo-hoo!!) All jokes aside, it was a good year for Sixer fans. Our boys finally made it out the first round, and took a better Celtic team to a game seven in the Conference Semi-Finals. No one, in their wildest wet dreams, could have imagined that. Not even me. Not to mention, the finally fair slash in ticket prices. All in all, most Sixer fans would agree that the 2011-12 season was a good one for us. Not for me.

See folks, I am more than just a Sixer fan, I am a basketball fan. I love the game, I have spent years of my life reading, watching, studying, and analyzing the game for no other reason than I wanted too. I have studied the NBA from the time of its birth in the 1940s to now. The game has changed and grown, but I love each type of basketball equally. Of course, I have an allegiance to my Sixers but once they are out the playoffs I root for a Champion that is good for the game. A team that proves diligence, team work, character, and intelligence—from the players and front office alike—can produce a great team (*COUGH*… OKC/SA). Not a team filled with arrogant, entitled, immature, cowards (*YELLING* The Heat!). Nonetheless, it was bound to happen and that is all I will speak on it. To add insult to injury, new Sixer management continues to allow Rod Thorn[ii] (who will be leaving the organization soon) to make off season moves that, to this very moment, that keep my head spinning.

So if you haven’t guessed yet, I am writing this piece because I don’t know how much I am going to be able to enjoy this season, but I do believe there is some hope for a productive offseason next summer or as I like to call it Summer-Mass!

WHAT I WANT FOR SUMMER-MAS OF 2013

1. Al Jefferson

If I have my wish, the Sixers will set their sights on acquiring Al Jefferson (unrestricted free agent in 2013). He may not be the best defender or a great rebounder, but he is one of the best low-post scorers in the NBA. The years of the “all-inclusive” big men are gone. Now-a-days you have to get a big guy for each job.[iii]  Jefferson is a guy you can throw the ball down to and can get you 25 points on the block night in and night out and will do it at an efficient rate. Not to mention, pairing him with Spencer Hawes playing the high post could be a deadly combination.

2. Monta Ellis

Yes I know it’s a player option and the Bucks were winning games at the end of the year. But I’d like to believe that the Jennings Ellis ordeal will wither apart like the Curry Ellis ordeal did. Thus, Monta will opt out of his contract to see what else is out there. Again, he may not be a good defender, but perimeter scoring must come at a cost, now that all the best perimeter players want to join forces and all. Mota is a guy who can score, at least, 20 points a night and has a career field goal percentage of 46%. If you team him with an elite/good defender in the back court, I can’t see why that can’t work, which, of course, leads me to my third wish…..

3. Jrue Holiday (at a discount price, well to him at least)[iv]

Here is the deal. I like Jrue but I don’t love him. I think he might the best draft pick we’ve had in a very, very long time. He has great size, good athleticism, and a quality defender. Yet the fact of the matter is this; he is inconsistent. At times he shows flashes of a perennial all-star, at others he seems to be overwhelmed—almost scared of big moments. However, even if he does play consistently, he is still not worth a max deal. Hopefully, if he becomes consistent and we are able to sign the first two guys on my list, he will understand that he will have to be paid exactly what he is worth, a good player on both ends of the floor. Not a great one. Not what he may potentially be worth two years down the road, what he is worth the day he resigns.

4. Quentin Richardson

Similar to Monta, there is no guarantee that Q will be a free agent. Nevertheless, I’d like to believe that the exponential deterioration of Orlando should be enough to lure him away from his contract. I’ve always been a fan of Q’s—gritty defender, great shooter, runs the floor well, and athletic enough to finish most plays around the basket. He may not be able to get to the basket on his own, but on the Sixers I’m creating, he wouldn’t have too. He’s a shooter with good size and athleticism. Something we are lacking and have lacked for years[v]. He can spread the floor for Al and Monta, change ends with any small forward in the league, and can run the break. That’s exactly what we need, off the bench or in the starting lineup. He may not be the most efficient shooter—career stat wise—but he should have better looks on this team, so I’d bet his field goal percentage would rise.

5. Evan Turner or Andre Iguodala

I’ve learn to like Iggy for what he does. I still think he is grossly overpaid and takes far too many jumpers but he is a good player. I cannot deny that. I like Evan as well. I think he can be an all-star type player at the small forward position; which presents a problem. One team should not have two perennial all-stars at the same position. One of them has to go. They are both elite defenders, good playmakers, and can get to the basket. Iggy may be a slightly better shooter and better finisher, but Evan makes his free throws and has the potential to be a better scorer. If Evan can play well consistently, than he would be my choice to be our starting three, I’d love for him to become a point-forward and allow both Jrue and Monta to play off the ball. But, so far, Evan has seemed to be struggling with the expectations we all have for him. Still, he is a slow developer, and I think he’ll put it all together sooner than later. And even if Evan took steps backwards—as long as we can sign the first four guys on this list—I’m still resigning Evan before Iggy. Iggy will cost more and provide more headaches. So unless Evan suffers a horrific injury, Iggy’s time is up.

6. Role players

This is no one specific, just guys who can fill necessary holes in our team (backup PG and maybe a big). I’d like to grab Dejuan Blair or J.J. Hickson and Eric Maynor or Gary Neal but anyone who is similar to these guys would fit fine.

Now if you combine these players with our bigs (Thad, Spencer, Lavoy, Nik Vucevic) with bench scoring (Nick Young) then you got yourself a team!

But don’t be shy Sixer fans, let me know what you think. Am I nuts or a genius[vi]? I mean, unless you’re scared (KG stare down, activate!).

 


[i]  Okay, there might be more than a few, but bare with me people.

[ii]  I hate Rob Thorn, that is all.

[iii]  A rebounder, a scorer, a defender, a shot blocker. Sometimes teams are able to find a guy with 2 skills e.g. a defender than can rebound. But rarely do you find low post scorers that are great or even good at anything else.

[iv]  Jrue said he is worth a max deal, when I heard that initially I almost took him off my list. Not even kidding.

[v]  Maybe since Aaron McKie, if you consider him a good athlete.

[vi]  I’m banking on genius, and no, there is no middle ground. I checked.

The Best on the Planet?

                  What’s happenin’ readers? I know it’s been awhile, the end of the semester got a bit hectic for me. You know how it is. Anyways, I’m sure the BOTH of you missed me, therefore I think its best I cut the pleasantries short and get down to brass tax.

 As most of you already know, LeBron James put on one of the most prolific individual performances in NBA playoff history last night in Game four against the Pacers. His 40 points, 18 rebounds, and nine assists have been equaled only once in the playoffs (by Elgin Baylor in 1961). No one, not even the most avid LeBron critics (or in other words, I) can deny the greatness displayed by James last night. Especially when you take into account that Wade had struggled all series long and Bosh[1] was out hurt. LeBron (finally) put his team on his shoulders and led them to a win. However, just like anytime LeBron does anything, the media is overreacting to it[2]. As I previously stated, I am not trying to take away from his performance, but it was one game people[3]! (How quickly we forget) Just two days ago, all of the “basketball minds” were condemning LeBron and the Heat, and now we are debating whether or not he is the best player on the planet. Don’t get me wrong people, I understand the debate. It is a legitimate one. However, if someone is the best player in the world then he is that player all the time, not just when he decides to show up. Nevertheless, the debates I have heard have annoyed me enough that I felt the need to address this myself.

Is LeBorn James the best player on the planet? I have to say no, and this is why.

I cannot say James is the “best” player for one simple but profound reason (that no one seemed to recognize), the connotation that is affiliated with the word “best.”Let me explain. When we say someone is the best insurance salesman on the planet we are suppose to believe this guy can sale insurance better than anyone else, right? This is because the main objective of a salesman is to make sales. (simple) Now, what is the main objective of an athlete? Winning is (or at least should be) their main objective. Therefore, the best basketball player must win big, win often, and be most responsible for the wins his team acquires. Now obviously, only certain players are in the discussion. James, Wade, Kobe, Durant, Rose, Chris Paul, Rondo, Tony Parker, Dirk, and Dwight are the only names that should be involved with the discussion. And you can only truly make a case for four or five of the guys (Kobe, James, Durant, Paul, and maybe Rondo)[4]. So, just because Metta World Peace hits a few keys shots that lead to Laker victories in the playoffs doesn’t mean he is qualified.

True, LeBron has won a lot of regular season games but recently you could make the argument that he hasn’t been most responsible for his team’s wins. Now, playing alongside another top five player, even if Wade doesn’t play well, opponents still have to worry about Wade. Also, as we all learned during last year’s finals, LeBron doesn’t win big. In fact, he shrinks during close important games (and even during some insignificant games), which should not be a characteristic of the “best” player on the planet. Still, if someone were to ask me who is the most skilled, most physically gifted, or most complete player on the planet there is no question that LeBron is that player. I could give you a million reasons why he is the most complete or skilled but the easiest and best way to figure out who is the most talented basketball player is to ask yourself “If I could emulate one guy’s game whose game do I want?” I think the answer is unanimous, we would all choose LeBron’s game. However, the things James does lack are what prevent him from separating himself from the rest. LeBron lacks the mental toughness, the willingness to fail, and competitive drive to be the best (he is scared of the pressure moments). And until all of that change, he never will.  Why was Jordan the greatest ever? MJ was never the most athletic, the most skilled, or the most complete player. However, he was and always will be the most competitive to ever play.

What is most infuriating to me and will surprise all of you is the fact that I want LeBron to be the best. I want him to surpass Jordan. I want him to lead a team, in which he is the sole alpha dog, and take the big shots. I want him to prove he is the best by devouring all of his competition on route to claiming titles, not play with them. I want to witness him become the greatest to ever to live. But I won’t, because he refuses to get out of his own way. So, unfortunately, LeBron James isn’t the best player on the planet. And I will never forgive him for it.


[1] I must add everyone is also overacting to Bosh’s absence as well. Just because the Heat’s offense struggled a bit with him out doesn’t make him a great player, it makes him a needed role player. Jordan needed Paxson and Kerr to hit some shots for the Bulls to win, does that make them great players? No, it doesn’t. If the Heat had a Glen Davis type, a big that could hit open jumpers, on their bench to replace Bosh, he wouldn’t be missed. I promise.

[2] It has gotten so bad that ESPN’s First Take was discussing James’ “decision” to read the novel The Hunger Games before Game 4. Seriously, who cares?

[3]Magic Johnson stated after the game that he hopes James’ performance would silence all of the critics. Funny, I’m pretty sure you are one of those “critics” Magic. Does that mean you plan to shut up for awhile?

[4] For the record, (as much as it pains me to say) I believe Kobe is still the best right now. But, there is a strong case for Durant as well.

“Who’s in First, Wait a Second”

Fearless Forecaster Returns!

By Dr. Joe Glass

[Caution — spoiler alert! This article gives you tomorrow’s standings today.]

With the help of Digital Diamond Baseball, ZIPS Projection Stats, insight, experience, two cups of coffee, and a few days off for Easter break, your Joust adviser is proud to provide the outcome of the 2012 MLB season.

American League
East: Boston
Central: Detroit
West: Texas
Wildcard: Tampa Bay & LA Angels
Champion: Texas

National League
East: Atlanta
Central: St. Louis
West: San Francisco
Wildcard: Philadelphia & Arizona
Champion: Philadelphia

World Series: Texas tops Philadelphia

[We now return you to the present.]20120406-191028.jpg

NHL Power Rankings (March 26, 2012)

The final stretch is upon us, as NHL teams gear up for their last 5,6, or 7 games of the regular season.  The NHL has become notorious for close finishes, in terms of which teams clinch a post-season berth, and this year will be no different.  Once again, the Western Conference has several teams that will not make the playoffs, despite the fact that they may have more points than the lower seeds of the Eastern Conference.  While this does not necessarily mean the Western Conference is overall stronger than the Eastern, this is a problem that could have been resolved via the Conference realignment proposed by Commisioner Bettman.  Unfortunately, the NHLPA’s rejction of this plan will keep the current playoff selection process in place for years to come.  Regardless, the NHL is poised for another exciting post-season, that will take its final shape in the coming weeks.

1.  Pittsburgh Penguins (47-22-6)

While holding on to Sidney Crosby for the entire season may not have paid off for fantasy hockey owners, the ‘kid’ is back and has re-solidified the Penguins place amongst the NHL’s elite teams.  By many analsyts definition, the Penguins have had a great season without their best player, and in spite of several other injuries.  Crosby has taught us that you can never be sure with concussion-like syndroms, but it seems as though he is good to go for the rest of the season, which is terrible news for just about every other team in the NHL.  At 8-1-1 in their last 10, Malkin, Bylsma, and Crosby are focused on bringing home their second Stanley Cup.

2.  St. Louis Blues (47-20-9)

The Blues latest romping of the Phoenix Coyotes is a great example of just how this team has been able to earn the number one spot in the league as of now; another shutout from Brian Elliot, and great team play that ultimately wore down the Coyotes.  St. Louis has won the Presidents Trophy just once before in the 1999-2000 NHL season.  With  six games left on their schedule, the Blues have a great chance to finish atop of the NHL once again, and eclipse that 113 point mark they set in 1999-00.  Not only are the Blues the prime candidates for comeback team of the year, but their roster is full of players that have a chance to win comeback player of the year: David Perron, Andy MacDonald, and now Alex Steen, who have all made a full recovery from heavy concussions.

3.  NY Rangers (47-21-7)

At this point in the season, it seems like the Rangers are playing in cruise control.  Never quite playing at an extraordinary level, but never letting a significant losing streak rear its ugly head.  And despite the greatest desires of the New York fan base, John Tortorella is not concerned with winning the Presidents Trophy.  As a veteran coach in this league, Tortorella is now focused on getting his players ready for the marathon that is the Stanley Cup Playoffs.  A main point of focus for the Rangers is to get the recently stagnant offense firing on all cylinders again.  The continued absence of Dubinsky from the score sheet and the cooling down of Derek Stepan and Artem Anisimov has caused the Rangers to slip to 11th in the league in terms of goals per game at 2.69.  The Rangers are in a unique position as a team that does not have to worry about goaltending for the playoffs – if they can score three or four goals per game, they will cruise through the playoffs….that is quite a big IF though.

4.  Philadelphia Flyers (44-23-8)

The stars have aligned, and all is well in the Universe…that is Mr. Universe, otherwise known as Ilya Bryzgalov.  Despite all of the bad rebounds, flukey goals, and questionable puck playing, Bryzgalov has been able to bring his sv % back to .912. And while this season was far from his best, Bryzgalov seems to be hitting his stride at the most crucial time of the season.  With the offense continuing to produce, led by Jagr, Giroux and Hartnell, the Flyers can only hope that Mr. Universe can keep this play up to avoid their usual goaltending achilles heel in the playoffs.

5.  Nashville Predators (44-24-8)

There is only one word needed to describe the Nashville win over the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday – beatdown.  From the drop of the puck the Predators never gave the Hawks, or the fans in the United Center, any reason to believe they had a chance to win that game.  Pekka Rinne broke out of his mini-slump, allowing only one goal, and the offense continued to shock and awe.  Barry Trotz has officially transformed his once purely defensive minded team, into a complete team that has the potential to make a lot of noise in the playoffs.

6.  Vancouver Canucks (45-21-9)

Despite the 4-5-1 record in the last ten games, Canucks fans have nothing to worry about.  The players on this Canucks team are no stranger to the post-season, and are calmly awaiting their chance to avenge last years Stanley Cup Final defeat.  Rather than strive for the Presidents Trophy, Alain Vigneault is more concerned with getting Marc-Andre Gragnani, Sammy Pahlsson, and Zack Kassian comfortable in their roles on the team, before the end of the regular season.  Between the pipes, Luongo continues to be the outright number one, but Schneider will be ready to shine whenever he gets the chance – and he will get that chance in this years playoffs.

 7. Chicago Blackhawks (42-26-8)

Contrary to their poor performance on Sunday, the Blackhawks have been able to produce a 7-2-1 record in their last ten games, despite the loss of Captain Johnathan Toews.  With the contiuning struggle at the goaltender position, the Blackhawks cannot hope to have any significant playoff success without the return of number 19.  But, for the time being, the Hawks are working towards a solid regular season finish, with Marian Hossa having his best season yet in a Hawks uniform.

8. Detroit Red Wings (45-25-5)

2-6-2 over a ten game span is hardly a record you would expect from Red Wings team.  Nevertheless, the Wings are showing that they too are only human.  On the bright side, Lidstrom is getting vital playing time to help him return from injury, and get into shape for the heavy minutes he will log in the playoffs.  The key for the Wings success in the 2012 playoffs rests on the shoulders, and pending health, of Jimmy Howard.  If Howard is not 100 percent, a return to the Stanley Cup Finals may be out of the question for this team.

9.  Dallas Stars (41-29-5)

Throughout the entire regular season, the Stars were the team that never seemed to go away.  Sure, the team has had several ups and downs this year, but overall the Stars have shocked the hockey world.  No one expected to see Dallas ahead of the Pacific division at this point in the season after losing Brad Richards.  The unsung hero of this team is without a doubt Kari Lethonen, who has brought his career back to life this year by posting a .925 sv %, and a 2.23 GAA in 31 wins this year.

10.  Boston Bruins (44-28-3)

After going on a miserable streak, the Bruins have begun to level off and play respectable hockey as of late.  Still, the injuries of Nathan Horton, Rich Peverely, and most importantly Tukka Rask, are still taking their toll on this team.  Tim Thomas is not playing at the Vezina level that we have come to expect from him, and perhaps that is partly due to the fact that he had become accustomed to sharing the load with Rask.  On the other side of the puck, Bergeron and Lucic continue to sporadically produce offense, never quite seeming to find a happy medium throughout a string of games.

10.  New Jersey Devils (42-29-6)

Fans of the New Jersey Devils are not used to seeing their team miss the Stanley Cup playoffs – which is why the 2010-11 season was so painful for the franchise.  But with the return of several key players from injuries, and the ‘get the job done’ play of legendary goaltender Martin Brodeur, the Devils are on pace to securing a spot in the post-season.  Their 90 points may be deceiving as well, seeing as the Devils play in the most competitive division in hockey, and are in constant battle with the Rangers, Flyers, and Penguins.  Given the proper circumstances, the Devils could sneak into the second round of the playoffs.

11.  Los Angeles Kings (37-26-12)

Don’t look now, but the Kings seem to be hitting their stride at the most crucial time of the season.  Now that Coach Suter does not have to rely solely on Anze Kopitar and Jonathan Quick, the Kings can look to unleash some real damage on whatever team they face in the first round of the playoffs – yes they are going to make the eight team cut in the West.  While this season has been an overall disappointment for the Kings and their fan base, no season can be completely discounted pending a post-season berth.  The 75 games the Kings have played are in the past, and all of the offensive struggles will be forgiven if Richards, Carter, Kopitar, Williams, and Doughty can turn it on come playoff time.

12.  Florida Panthers (36-24-15)

In the midst of the recent resurgence of the Washington Capitals and Buffalo Sabres, the Panthers have been able to hold on to a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, but just by a thread.  Given the Panthers three-ring golatending circus and lack of depth, do not look for this team to make too much noise in the playoffs.  Regardless, the fact that the Panthers are even in contention for a playoff spot is a drastic improvement from previous years performances, and proof that sometimes that answer to a franchises problems is to clean house, and rely on the free agent market.

13.  Washington Capitals (38-30-8)

The unanimous pre-season Cup favorite Capitals once again have their fan base sitting on the edge of their seats.  The duo of Alex’s (Ovechkin and Semin) seem to have adopted a new persona: that being ‘we’re not gonna take it anymore.’  Tired of constant harping from critics (most notably Mike Milbury and Pierre McGuire), the Capitals are going all in for the last six games of the regular season.  Not unlike previous seasons, the goaltending position is up for grabs, and now Braden Holtby has made the race even more interesting by positng his third career shutout on Sunday.  Can the Caps catch the Panthers? Or fend of the Sabres for the eight spot? For the sake of George McPhee’s job, let’s hope so.

14. Buffalo Sabres (37-29-10)

Analysts speculate all the time, but in the case of the Sabres I agree with them.  The trades made at the deadline, along with how the rest of this season has played out, angered Ryan Miller and now he is taking it out on opposing teams.  Much like Ilya Bryzgalov, Miller has had a subpar season, but has been able to revive his numbers as of late.  Even though there are more teams involved in the race for the eigth spot in the West, the finale involving the Panthers, Capitals, and Sabres is the most exciting development in these last few weeks.  Two teams that should have had great seasons, and one team that has defied the odds.  Lindy Ruff and his squad are hoping to emerge victorious, with the mindset of just getting into the big dance.

15.  San Jose Sharks (38-27-10)

Every time I am ready to count the Sharks out, they turn it around and stay afloat (no pun intended) in the playoff race.  Unlike years past, the Sharks do not find themselves at the top of the Western Conference standings.  Maybe the team parted with Heately and Setoguchi too willingly, but regardless, they will look to ‘Jumbo Joe’ and ‘Little Joe’ to lead them to a playoff spot.  Of course, it all means nothing is the play between the pipes doesn’t pick up very soon.

16.  Phoenix Coyotes (37-27-13)

Barely hanging on to a playoff spot, the 4-2-4 record in their last ten games has the Coyotes looking like the odd team out in the Western Conference.  But if Shane Doan, Radim Vrbata, Ray Whitney, and Mike Smith can pull together for one last push, the Coyotes will make the playoffs once again, despite the departure of Bryzgalov.

 

*Other teams in the playoff race not listed:

Ottawa Senators (38-28-10)

Colorado Avalanche (40-31-6)

Calgary Flames (34-27-15)

Anything they can do, Gretzky already did better

On February 2nd, 2012, Edmonton Oilers forward Sam Gagner put on a performance for the ages.  Up until this night, Gagner had been underperforming compared to the expectations that had been set for his season with only five goals and 17 assists through 44 games played.  Gagner’s play in the first period of the Oilers v. Chicago Blackhawks was utterly non-productive, which is why no one could have predicted how the last two periods of the game would unfold.  Through the next 17 minutes and 28 seconds of his time on the ice, Sam Gagner exploded with four goals and four assists.  His eight point performance not only propelled the Oilers to a 8-4 win over the Blackhawks in front of a sold out Rexall Place, but it also solidified his name in Oilers history.  With this incredible feat, the 22-year-old Gagner tied the franchise of eight points in one game, which now stands at a three-way tie between Gagner, Coffey, and some guy named Gretzky.

Gagner’s performance that night gave way to one of the most rare events in the hockey world – a player threatening a Wayne Gretzky record.  Admittedly, Gretzky does not hold the record for most points in an NHL game.  Darryl Sittler who recorded 10 points in a Toronto Maple Leafs uniform on February 7, 1976 holds that record.  Nevertheless, Gretzky undisputedly has prevailed the greatest player in NHL history with a grand total of 2857 points in 1487 games played (1.921 points per game).

When sports fans in the United States think of the  term “Greatest athletes of All-Time,” their minds are usually clouted with names like Palmer, Jordan, Ruth, Bradshaw, Ali, Elway, Chamberlin, Montana, and etc..  Perhaps it is ironic that the most dominant athlete that has ever lived played the sport that is the least popular of the four major professional sports in the United States – ice hockey.  It’s not an opinion.  It’s not debatable.  It’s fact.  Gretzky holds or shares 61 NHL records: 40 regular season, 15 in the Stanley Cup playoffs and All-Star game.

  1. Most points: 2,857
  2. Most points, including playoffs: 3,238
  3. Most goals:  894
  4. Most goals, including playoffs: 1,016
  5. Most assists: 1,963
  6. Most assists including playoffs: 2,223
  7. Most goals by a Center: 894
  8. Most assists by a Center: 1,963
  9. Most points by a Center: 2,857
  10. Most 40-or-more goal seasons: 12
  11. Most consecutive 40-or-more goal seasons: 12 (1979-80 to 1990-91)
  12. Most 50-or-more goal seasons: 9
  13. Most 60-or-more goal seasons: 5
  14. Most consecutive 60-or-more goal seasons: 4 (1981-82 to 1984-85)
  15. Most 100-or-more point seasons: 15
  16. Most consecutive 100-or-more point seasons: 13 (1979-80 to 1991-92)
  17. Most three-or-more goal games: 50
  18. Most overtime assists: 15
  19. Highest assists-per-game average: 1.32
  20. Most points, one season: 215 (1985-86)
  21. Most points, one season, including playoffs: 255 (1984-85)
  22. Most goals, one season: 92 (1981-82)
  23. Most goals, one season, including playoffs: 100 (1983-84)
  24. Most goals, in 50 games from start of season: 61 (1981-82 and 1983-84)
  25. Most assists, one season: 163 (1985-86)
  26. Most assists, one season, including playoffs: 174 (1985-86)
  27. Most points by a center, one season: 215 (1985-86)
  28. Most goals by a center, one season: 92 (1981-82)
  29. Most assists by a center: 163 (1985-86)
  30. Most three-or-more goal games, one season: 10 (1981-82)
  31. Longest consecutive assist-scoring streak: 23 games – 48 assists (1990-91)
  32. Longest consecutive point-scoring streak: 51 games – 153 points (Oct. 5, 1983 to Jan. 28, 1984)
  33. Longest consecutive point-scoring streak from start of season: 51 games – 153 points
  34. Highest goals-per-game average, one season: 1.18 (1983-84)
  35. Highest assists-per-game average, one season: 2.04 (1985-86)
  36. Highest points-per-game average, one season: 2.77 (1983-84)
  37. Most goals, one period: 4 (tied with 10 other players)
  38. Most assists, one game: 7 (tied with Billy Taylor) (three times)
  39. Most assists, one road game: 7 (tied with Billy Taylor)
  40. Most assists, one game, by a rookie: 7 (recorded two times in rookie season)
  41. Most playoff goals: 122
  42. Most playoff assists: 260
  43. Most playoff points: 382
  44. Most game-winning goals in playoffs: 24
  45. Most three-or-more goal game in playoffs: 10
  46. Most points, one playoff year: 47 (1985)
  47. Most assists, one playoffs year: 31 (1988)
  48. Most assists in a finals series: 13 (1988)
  49. Most assists in a finals series: 10 (1988)
  50. Most assists in one series (other than finals): 14 (1985)
  51. Most shorthanded goals, one playoff year: 3 (1983)
  52. Most assists, one playoff game: 6 (1987)
  53. Most points, one playoff period: 4 (1G, 3A – 1987)
  54. Most assists, one playoff period: 3
  55. Most short-handed goals, one playoff game: 2 (1983)
  56. Most All-Star game goals: 13
  57. Most All-Star game goals, one game: 4 (1983)
  58. Most All-Star game goals, one period: 4 (1983)
  59. Most All-Star game points, one period: 4 (1983)
  60. Most All-Star game points, career: 25
  61. Most All-Star game assists, career: 12 (tied with four other players)

*Although it is not a record, it should be noted Gretzky also won four Stanley Cups – all with the Edmonton Oilers.

If that is not dominance, what is?  Although he is by no means the most talented player in the NHL, Sam Gagner now can claim to have matched a personal record of Wayne Gretzky.  That alone is an accomplishment that will last a lifetime.

NHL Power Rankings (March 12, 2012)

After all of the speculation built during the weeks leading up to the trade deadline about where Rick Nash would land, he remains in a Blue Jackets uniform.  The many teams that could have used Nash’s services will now have to battle for a position in the post season with their current roster.  For 14 teams, the recent change to warmer weather indicates that there is a chance the fairways and greens of golf courses across the nation will be in prime condition by the time the last day of the NHL regular season comes around.  On the other hand, the 16 teams that will be fortunate enough to have made the playoffs are starting to take form.  With less than 13 games left in the season for most teams, it is officially crunch time.

1.  St. Louis Blues (45-18-7)

All year long NHL experts have praised the Blues and head coach Ken Hitchcock for their ability to come together as a team.  However, none of them expected this team to be a top the NHL standings come mid March.  9-1 in their last ten games, the Blues have risen to the top five in categories such as goal differential, and best home record.  And while other teams have players on their roster with close to 50 goals or 50 assists, the Blues do not have a single player that have over 50 points total yet.  Spreading the scoring around is a part of the St. Louis Blues motto and it has obviously paid off.

2.  New York Rangers (43-18-7)

Just when it appeared the Rangers were poised to run away as the clear winners of the President’s Trophy, they fell back into one of their usual slumps.  Although many teams in the basement of the league would be content with a 5-3-2 record in their last ten, John Tortorella knows that their performance of late has not resembled that of a Stanley Cup contending team.  With the Rangers making no moves at the trade deadline, the pressure now falls on forward Brandon Dubinsky, who have vastly underperformed with a less than admirable 26 points.  Meanwhile the Rangers will continue to look to names like Gaborik, Richards, Callahan, and of course Lundqvist, to continue carrying the load.

3.  Detroit Red Wings (44-22-3)

It may be an overlooked statistic in today’s NHL, but the Red Wings are currently the best 5-on-5 team in hockey with a 1.58 5-5 F/A rate.  The Wings also find themselves second to only the Boston Bruins in terms of goal differential, but have somehow managed to go only 4-5-1 in their last ten games.  A large part of that record can be attributed to the absence of star player Pavel Datsyuk, and lingering injury problems for Vezina candidate Jimmy Howard.  Nevertheless, you can rest assured that coach Mike Babcock will have his team ready for the playoffs.  The only question now is what seed will they earn.

4.  Vancouver Canucks (42-19-8)

Just a few weeks ago the Canucks watched their previous Stanley Cup opponent, and rival, Bruins ascend to the top of the league standings.  But thanks to the steady play of Luongo, the Sedins, and quality secondary scoring, it appears the Canucks will have the last laugh and finish the regular season ahead of the Bruins.  Perhaps the most positive thing for Canucks fans to take away from their teams play right now is the imminent return of Ryan Kesler.  Yes, he has played 64 games this year, but Kesler struggled to regain his footing early in the year thanks to playoff injuries.  But now with 44 points and a +19, Kesler is beginning to resemble the star player he was during the 2010-11 season.

5.  Pittsburgh Penguins (42-21-5)

Not too long ago it looked like this Crosby-less Penguins team had finally run out of gas due to injuries, and was  free-falling in the standings.  But there is a reason why Dan Bylsma is considered one of the best coaches, and Malkin one of the best players in the NHL.  Any fan that tuned into HBO’s 24/7 two years ago got an inside look of how Bylsma manages his team.  You can bet that he has been fully utilizing his player rating system and pushing his players to their fullest potential.  Meanwhile, Malkin and Neal continue to put points on the board effortlessly, and secondary scoring from Dupuis and Letang never hurts.

6.  Philadelphia Flyers (39-22-7)

Could it be that Mr. Universe – otherwise known as Iyla Bryzgalov – has finally found his game?  All season long the city of Brotherly Love has bashed the Russian net minder for his less than admirable play.  But if there was ever a time for Bryzgalov to win back the hearts of Flyers fans, it would be now.  Finally bumping his sv% over .900, it looks like Bryzgalov is ready to earn his pay check.  In the midst of injuries to JVR, the Flyers offense has continued to perform at a high level thanks to incredible seasons from Claude Giroux and Scott Hartnell.  Defense is the name of the game come playoff time, and if the Flyers can find theirs, there is no reason why this team cannot make a real run at the Stanley Cup.

7.  Nashville Predators (40-21-7)

Let the good times roll in Nashville! With the passing of the trade deadline, we saw the reunion of the second most dominating twins in the NHL, the Kostitsyn brothers.  Andrei and Sergei have already showed their chemistry on the ice and have been a large part of the reason why the Predators have gone 7-2-1 in their last ten games.   Although it appears Pekka Rinne has hit some what of a rough patch, it is only because the rest of the NHL holds him to such a high standard.  Led by Shea Weber and coach Barry Trotz, this may be the best team in Predators franchise history from top to bottom.  Only the playoffs will tell.

8.  New Jersey Devils (40-24-5)

Remember a year ago when the Devils began an inconceivable run that fell short of earning them a playoff spot?  Fortunately for New Jersey fans, the Devils have put themselves in a much better position than last year, and have a great chance to make some noise in the Eastern Conference.  Although Martin Brodeur continues to show his age, he has been able to get the job done between the pipes while Kovalchuck, Parise, Zubrus, and Elias provide offense every night.

9.  Dallas Stars (38-26-5)

9-0-1 in their last ten games has propelled the Stars back into playoff contention.  Despite the fact that the majority of the scoring has fallen to Eriksson, Benn, Ryder, and Ribeiro, the return of team captain Brenden Morrow should ignite some scoring from the 2nd and 3rd offensive lines.  In the crease, Kari Lethonen continues to revive his otherwise dead career, proving that Rinne and Kiprusoff are not the only talented Finnish goaltenders in the league.  On the cusp of 30 regular season wins and a .924 SV%, Lethonen has proven to be a great investment for the Stars and will play a key role to the continued success of the team.

10.  Chicago Blackhawks (37-25-8)

Perhaps the 2011-12 Blackhawks are the best example of how poor goal tending always trumps an explosive offense in the NHL.  The Hawks are coming off a shootout loss to the L.A. Kings, in which veteran Ray Emery got the start.  And although Emery has statistically outperformed Corey Crawford, both goalies have played just awful this season.  The bottom line for the Hawks, Hossa, Toews, Kane, and Sharp can all get over 60 or even 70 points, but come playoff time it won’t matter if Joe Quennville cannot find a way to hide this atrocious net minding.

11. Boston Bruins (40-25-3)

Injuries to Nathan Horton and Rich Peverley have finally caught up to a Bruins team that has been riding high for the majority of the season.  Despite their 83 points, the Bruins are practically plummeting downwards in the league standings with a 4-5-1 record in their last ten games.  To make matters worse, Tukka Rask is out of commission and Tim Thomas is playing the worst hockey in his last three years of play.  Just this weekend the Penguins exposed the defensive flaws of the Bruins, jumping out to a quick lead and never looking back.  If the Bruins are looking to make a run at back-back Stanley Cup championships, something has to change – and soon.

12.  Ottawa Senators (36-25-9)

After what can only be described as a freak accident with goalie Craig Anderson, the towering Ben Bishop has stepped in to help Robin Lehner between the pipes.  As the tallest goalie in the NHL, Bishop has maintained a .926 sv% through his three games as a Senator.  On the offensive side of the puck, Spezza and Erik Karlsson continue to produce night in and night out.  Although Milan Michalek and Daniel Alfredsson have come off their season highs, both forwards have continued to pick up the important secondary goals that has earned the Senators a chance to reach the playoffs.

13.  Florida Panthers (32-23-13)

With the Washington Capitals breathing down their neck, the Panthers have managed to remain cool and hold their lead on the Southeast division. The Panthers possess the worst goal differential of any of the top 16 teams in the NHL at a -25, and much like the Blackhawks are having goal tending issues.  As of today, the Panthers have juggled four goalies during regular season play including Jose Theodore, Scott Clemmensen, Jakob Markstrom, and now Brain Foster.  But the question remains: who is going to step up come playoff time?!  Even if the Panthers manage to squander the Southeast division title to the Capitals (or any other team in the division for that matter) they still have a great chance to make the playoffs, pending great play from Versteeg, Fleischmann, and Campbell.

14.  Phoenix Coyotes (34-25-10)

While the 2011-12 NHL season has been a coming out party for Coyotes goal tender Mike Smith, who is being called a star by some, the Coyotes are barely hanging out to their playoff spot.  With teams in the Western conference like Calgary and Los Angeles keeping pace, the Coyotes lack the depth that other teams in the league have to be a serious playoff contender.  Unfortunately for Coyotes fans, captain, and face of the franchise, Shane Doan is on pace to having a sub par season by his standards, and lingering injuries to center Martin Hanzal have hurt the team immensely.

15.  Washington Capitals (35-28-6)

When was the last time this team was in the power rankings?  The Capitals are by far still the front runner for the NHL’s most disappointing team award, Dale Hunter has managed to put together a winning combination as of late.  One of the most overlooked injuries in the NHL is the concussion-like symptoms that center Nicklas Backstrom is suffering from.  Alex Ovechkin has been stagnant without his offensive partner, and the Caps have struggled to fill the first line center role since his injury.  Star defense man Mike Green is obviously playing injured and has literally contributed nothing to the team since his return.  Nevertheless, the Caps have been able to muster up the fire power to get back into the playoff race.

16.  Los Angeles Kings (32-25-12)

Currently the Kings sit one spot out of the playoffs behind the Calgary Flames, but the Vezina worthy play of Jonathan Quick is what separates the Kings from the Flames.  A goal from Jeff Carter last night, and a shootout win against the Blackhawks is a huge feat for this team and helping build momentum for their last 13 games.